It’s not the destination that counts–it’s the journey. At least that feels like the truth when you’re traveling with younger kids, and not always in a good way. As a parent–or the lucky friend, aunt, or uncle–you will want to make the trip as easy and as fun as possible. We’ve pulled together some ideas.
Food for Them, Food for You
Snacks are the ultimate travel hack when traveling with babies and toddlers. Food is comforting, familiar, and engages the taste and smell senses which can help a stressed kid who needs a little familiarity. Try making a Cheerio necklace for a fun snack, or buy a tray at the dollar store (with compartments and a lid) and fill it with safe foods. This will keep the kids engaged for a bit.
Some form of entertainment will be necessary. You do not have to bring the whole library but definitely bring some books. Pack a favorite stuffed animal (bonus points for having a backup duplicate at home in case it gets lost), and look for sensory toys to keep the kids engaged. Touch and Feel texture books are perfect to engage a bored baby. Bubbles and washi tape for emergencies also work great!
Plan for the Worst Outcomes
Make sure that something like a blown tire or a dead car battery doesn’t derail the whole trip. Consider getting roadside assistance so that you can be on your way without being out too much cash.
Have a Plan for the Big Items
Your baby will need a safe space to sleep at a minimum, and maybe a stroller and car seat depending on your plans. If packing these bulky items is out of the question, then search for local rentals you can trust. It is definitely not something you want to forget about! Call ahead and double check.
Determine Screen Time Options (If Any)
There is no denying the relief screen time can bring to a trip. Download their favorite cartoons from your steaming apps, and find some games in the app store that don’t require wifi. If you’re not planning to use these, that’s okay too.
Take a Break When Traveling with Kids
When driving with young children, you’re going to need to take a break regularly (check with your pediatrician to see how often is recommended based on their age). Get everyone out of the car, breathe some fresh air, take out trash, shake off crumbs, and check the car seats. No one likes sitting for hours on end, especially babies! It’s boring! Make sure to note pit stop options when you plan your trip.
If you are traveling with a baby and will be walking through an airport or crowded areas, baby wearing will be a great way to keep your baby close to you while you navigate those tight spots. Carriers are usually light to pack, and easier to use once you are at your destination.
Spare Clothing for All
Anyone traveling should bring a change of clothes in an easy to reach place. If you are on a plane, bring a set on the carry on–for the baby and the adult care givers. In a car, bus, or train, the same idea applies. Make sure every person in the party has an easy to reach spare set. It is not fun to travel in soiled clothes when Junior gets motion sickness.
Traveling into high altitudes, such as in an airplane or driving up mountains can be painful to kids when their eardrums start popping. Make sure babies have a pacifier or something to suck on, and give toddlers a lollipop or something similar. If your kid can handle it, bring gum. Pack any hard candies, lollipops, or gum with the snacks and offer it to all passengers as you climb altitudes.
Plan for Medical Emergencies
The boring necessity, but when traveling with children you will want to be prepared for possible emergencies. Make sure to pack a first aid kit in an easy to reach place. Do research on your destination and places you may pass through for dangers, such as tornadoes and mud slides. An ounce of preparation can prevent pounds of stress later!